As one of the most biologically diverse states in the country, New Jersey is home to over 1000 different species of animal wildlife. Coyotes, foxes, raccoons, snakes, and black bears are some of the species that have adapted to life near humans, and it’s not uncommon to encounter one or more during a wilderness excursion or right in our own backyards.
As wonderful as it can be to live a state so richly populated with wildlife, it’s important to stay alert, especially if you own a pet. Interactions between pets and wild animals can have disastrous consequences, which is why it’s so important to make sure you understand and implement the principles of wildlife safety for pets.
Wildlife Safety For Pets
Wildlife is drawn to our backyards and gardens because they are often a rich source of food, water, shelter, or all three. When it comes to wildlife safety for pets, there are three main areas of concern:
- Coyotes and foxes are both predators that routinely kill cats and small dogs.
- Black bears are attracted to areas where garbage and food is accessible and can pose a threat to people and pets.
- Any mammal can carry rabies and transmit the disease to pets or people, including bats, raccoons, possums, and more.
A 6-foot (or higher) fence around your yard or property can make a huge difference when it comes to protecting your pets and family from wildlife. Even with a fence, make sure to keep all pet food bowls and bins indoors and to securely cover garbage and compost bins. Keep the area around your home free of tall grasses, overgrown shrubbery, and piles of leaves, wood, or debris, as these can make suitable habitat or hiding spots for a variety of wild animals.
Out And About
Wildlife safety for pets isn’t just about protecting your small dogs or keeping cats indoors – although both are extremely important. As human civilization continues to encroach into formerly wild areas, incidents of attacks on people and pets as well as transmission of zoonotic disease (transmitted from animals to people) becomes more frequent.
Keep the following in mind to protect your pet, yourself, and wildlife safe from harm while enjoying natural areas:
- Keep your dog leashed at all times.
- Make sure your pets are up to date on all of their vaccinations and parasite preventives.
- Don’t allow dogs off of designated trails.
- Don’t allow your pet to investigate wildlife, either dead or alive, or wildlife feces.
- Clean up your pet’s waste and throw away all garbage and leftover food.
- Don’t attempt to feed, pet, or help injured wildlife. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to possess wildlife in the state of New Jersey, so If you come across a wild animal that you believe needs assistance, contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for help.
By practicing awareness and respect for wildlife, we can help to ensure our pets’ safety as well as the safety of the wild creatures we share our space with. If you have any questions regarding wildlife safety for pets, please don’t hesitate to let the staff at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital know.